KZN bomb attacks: More evidence links accused to ISIS

2018-10-25 20:33
A group of friends and family of those who were attacked at the Verulam mosque demonstrate outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday. (Kerushun Pillay)

A group of friends and family of those who were attacked at the Verulam mosque demonstrate outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday. (Kerushun Pillay) (Kerushun Pillay)

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Photographs and videos which "clearly indicates his support and commitment to ISIS" were found on the cellphone of the "leader" of a group of men accused of the fatal Verulam mosque attack and the placement of several explosive devices at Durban shopping centres and businesses.

This emerged in an affidavit submitted to the Verulam Family Court on Thursday afternoon in the bail application of the 11 men accused in the case. The men are applying for their release on bail.

In the supplementary affidavit of Warrant Officer Benedict Chonco, who is the investigating officer in the case, it emerged that businessman Farhad Hoomer's phone contained a photograph of him with an ISIS beanie, ISIS magazines and newsletters with manuals for how to make a cellphone detonator, bomb-making plans and recipes.

The officer added that that the cellphone also contained ISIS propaganda material "that inter alia incites persons to participate in violent jihad (holy war) and contains instructions on how to carry out home assassinations and instructions on how to manufacture a parcel bomb, a magnetic car bomb as well as a door-trap bomb".

READ: KZN bomb attacks: Court hears 11 accused linked to ISIS

Hoomer is accused number 1 in the case.

Chonco also said that Hoomer was identified as the leader of the group when they were arrested at his residence in Reservoir Hills on October 5.

The court heard that Hoomer's house was also used as a training premises for the group.

He said all the accused followed Hoomer's instructions and looked up to him for guidance and advice.

Chonco's affidavit also revealed that some of the accused were members of a WhatsApp group called Jundullah, which according to him, meant "Soldiers of God".

"'Jundullah' is a Sunni militant organisation based in Iran and fights for the equal rights of Sunnis in the predominantly Shia Iran. They call for the destruction of Shia mosques," Chonco said in the affidavit.

The cellphone of Ahmed Haffejee, who is accused two in the case also contained material that indicated his support for ISIS, according to Chonco.

'Digital evidence'

Haffejee was pointed out during a formal identification parade held at Brighton Beach police station on October 11 as one of the attackers at the Imam Hussein Mosque in Verulam.

Chonco said a provisional analysis of cellphone towers established that Haffejee and Hoomer were together in the area of the Hotel La Mercy tower at about 13:20 on May 10, shortly before the attack at the mosque.

"The digital evidence adduced so far establishes that the accused are active on social media and are able to communicate freely with ISIL (ISIS) members outside the country," said Chonco.

Chonco's affidavit also said that the accused allegedly used the same cellphone, but with different SIM cards, to call the improvised explosive device at the Verulam mosque on May 10 and when they tried to extort money out of three businesses in Durban.

He said due to the serious nature of the charges and "the links to ISIL", witnesses were afraid to have their identities revealed.

"The release of the applicants (the accused) on bail will impact negatively in obtaining witness testimony," Chonco said.

He said the community would not feel safe if they were released.

Hoomer, Haffejee, Thabit Mwenda‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ Ndikumana Shabani and Iddy Omani applied for bail via sworn affidavits submitted on Monday.

'Prejudiced' 

They face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and the violation of Pocdatara (The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act).

The accused are from South Africa, Burundi, DRC and Tanzania, the court heard.

According to prosecutor Adele Barnard, the supplementary affidavit was filed to support Chonco's first affidavit, which the State submitted on Tuesday.

However, on Thursday, the accused's lawyers said that they had been "prejudiced" by the State's late submission of the supplementary affidavit.

They told the court they had prepared replying affidavits only in relation to Chonco's first affidavit.

Magistrate Irfaan Khalil granted the defence permission to file "amended" replying affidavits before midday on Monday.

He postponed the case to October 30 for arguments in the bail application.

Read more on:    isis  |  durban

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